A refreshing respite from the "How to get a gazillion follows", "top tips of top tips" or "best twitter app list for managing your numerous twitter apps".
This is a simple tale of thoughtful set up, minimal effort with quality returns... using Twitter. If you have no idea what to do with Twitter, no time to engage with Twitter but realise there is something important bubbling within this Twitter lark. This is the article for you.
Back in February 2009 I delivered an intro to social media workshop for Imre Design, the Director Paul Imre I meet very briefly at MediaCampBucks but I was recommended as a contact via Twitter when his company was looking to run a social media awareness workshop for a selection of his regular clients. With my specialism being the web for the Arts I was asked to reflect on one of his clients in particular, Urban Strides a youth street dance company.
Twitter is an element of my hands-on workshops where we sign up to Twitter enabling the protecting updates feature during set up and we tweet for the first time collectively to a central "Blue Peter!, here's one I made earlier Twitter account.
That central account is the reason I am writing this post "The Zen art of Twitter".
A few months ago I decided to re visit the account. I had received several email notices telling me people were following so I logged in to discover 90 followers. When I reviewed the list I discovered 90 very relevant fellow tweeters active in the field of dance from magazines, dance wear shops, dance companies, agents, promoters and venues. There were dancers and dance lovers too of course.
So for a 15min set up time here I am 6 months later with a niche audience. Social Media has to be a conversation and 93 is a number I can talk to when the need arises. Personal direct messaging is far more feasible on this scale. I wonder when companies or even individuals build twitter followers so fast how any real conversation can take place. Networking and lead generation is key. I know hardened tweeters who have finely tuned Tweetdeck groups running in order to take part in conversations. They have evolved to necessitate tailored network filtering to stay in touch. Twitter is... I will say this only once more... a conversation!
So what is the Art? There are many approaches to Twitter - a link distribution platform and browser, a back channel forum and chat room for an event, water cooler chat for geeks, a gossamer thread of friendship, a nifty website updating tool, a instant knowledge bank, its is all of these. If you are a small business and don't know if Twitter is worth your time spend 15 minutes setting up your account fully:
- Add an avatar - a picture of you if its personal or a logo if its for the business
- Add a one line keyword rich biog
- Include your website address
- sign up with a valid email address
With this in place you can sit back and wait. Should you want to get the ball rolling search twitter for your keywords or home location see who else is using them.
For Urban Strides' biog I used their own mission "We want to inspire through entertainment and education and enthuse with our passion for dance." For many there is a compulsion to tweet. Once you start you won't be able to stop.
If it 'don't grab ya' its no loss. Having an identity on Twitter mean you can be referenced. This has Zen value too.
Anyone reading these tweets can click the blue text and find out who the person being referenced is.
My Twitter network has taken 18months to evolve. It began as a back channel for an event. Then became my water cooler chat and real world network reinforcement. It has only been relatively recent that I can confidently ask a question and feel assured I will get an answer. When I do I am still humbled that my tweets are indeed being read let alone responded to. Twitter at its most valuable for my business is a way of announcing what I am doing and when so that anyone in the physical area of the event can come along and network.
It all comes back to beer!